Yankees Can Keep Trying to Plug Holes, But New York Still Owns Sinking Ship in AL East

Brian CashmanThe Yankees are like high school freshmen at a college fair, only much, much older.

Due to a myriad of injuries, the Yankees have been forced to look outside the organization for help, and to their credit, they’ve been active in trying to fill the gaping holes scattered throughout the roster. The problem is that while the Yankees recognize their areas of need, the players that have been brought in look like nothing more than warm bodies capable of being used to fill out a lineup card.

Many high school freshmen will attend a college fair this year, realizing that it’s something they should probably attend — even if only to appease others. But upon arriving on the scene, there will come a time when those students realize they’re still four years away from going to college, and therefore have no clue as to what their plans are beyond dealing with whatever the weekend brings. The end result: a crap load of flyers and pamphlets to different schools (and some military branches) that will eventually collect dust on top of the refrigerator.

The Yankees are in a similar predicament. They realize that there are holes, and that the logical solution is to seek help outside the organization. Given that this is the Yankees — a team predicated on staying competitive year after year — there is an expectation among baseball fans that New York will go out and be aggressive. Upon looking over the available options, though, the Bronx Bombers are realizing that there isn’t much out there that fits their needs. The end result: taking flyers on a crap load of misfits that could ultimately have little impact in keeping the team afloat for the first couple of months in the American League East.

Alex Rodriguez had hip surgery, Curtis Granderson broke his arm, Mark Teixeira hurt his wrist and Derek Jeter will start the season on the disabled list because he’s still not fully recovered from the broken ankle he suffered during last year’s ALCS. Toss in the departures of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez — all key members of New York’s 2012 squad — and you’re looking at a hurting situation. (Figuratively, but also quite literally.)

General manager Brian Cashman, whose hands are somewhat tied because of the Yankees’ desire to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014, has responded by acquiring veterans such as Kevin Youkilis, Juan Rivera, Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells, Ben Francisco, Brennan Boesch, Dan Johnson and Lyle Overbay. A few of these characters could ultimately find themselves on the outside looking in when the big league roster is finalized before Opening Day, but others — like Youkilis, Rivera, Hafner and Wells — figure to be penciled into Joe Girardi‘s lineup card.

Obviously, the Yankees could do worse in bringing in veteran talent, as a number of these players have had at least some success at the big league level. Clearly, the Yankees are hoping that by bringing in this smattering of veterans, they will catch lightning in a bottle in a couple of cases. That approach, however, requires plenty of wishful thinking, and wishful thinking isn’t going to win ballgames in the AL East.

The Yankees are suddenly looking like a team that lacks a sense of direction. Outside of the aforementioned injuries, there’s Robinson Cano‘s next contract (which looms large), Mariano Rivera‘s impending retirement, Andy Pettitte‘s year-to-year decision process, Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda fighting Father Time, and the headache known as Joba Chamberlain. Not only could the Yankees be in store for a rough couple of months, but the pastures that lie ahead are in need of a heavy dose of Scott’s Turf Builder.

At some point, the Yankees will need to sit down and figure out which path they’re headed down. Typically, that requires throwing away all the old, outdated, cluttered flyers.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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